David Moenning

About the Author David Moenning

David Moenning is a the Chief Investment Officer at Heritage Capital, which focuses on active risk management of the U.S. stock market. Dave is also the proprietor of StateoftheMarkets.com, which provides free and subscription-based portfolio services. Dave began his investment career in 1980 and has been an independent money manager since 1987. Thus, Dave has been live on the firing line and investing for a living for more than 25 years.

Markets Outlook: Some Worry is Back in the Game

Well, here we go again. Just when you thought that the bulls were back in charge and the favorable seasonality was going to cause Christmas to come early this year to the corner of Broad and Wall, the worry returns. And with that worry comes the usual selling and what could easily become yet another in a long string of treks through the trading range.

While the S&P 500 remains well above its 50-day moving average at the present time (the venerable MA currently resides at 2006) it is worth noting that the blue chip index has crossed its 50-day a whopping 38 times so far this year. And for those keeping score at home, this represents the most back-and-forth, schizophrenic, A.D.D. market (in terms of the number of 50-day crossings, that is) since 1930. Oh, and for the record, the DJIA has crossed its 50-day 36 times so far in 2015, which is the most since 1900.

So, it will suffice to say that this market has issues. And perhaps the biggest issue is the worry about global growth.

While stocks surged in October on the idea that Super Mario and his merry band of European central bankers were going to keep printing money and the Chinese were talking about pushing a bit harder on the stimulus gas pedal, the bloom is definitely off that rose as traders are back to fretting about the outlook for growth. Well, in places outside the U.S., anyway.

And what do traders do when they begin to get uncomfortable? That’s right, they sell. And don’t look now fans, but the selling in some of the market’s biggest and brightest proxies for global growth is getting serious.

First there are the industrial metals. More specifically, take a look at the weekly chart of “Doctor Copper” over the last 4 years, shown just below.

IPath Copper ETF (NYSE: JJC) – Weekly

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Remember, copper is supposed to be the commodity that has a PhD in economics – due to the metal being a proxy for construction around the globe.

The message from Dr. Copper is quite clear: The patient (global growth) is one sick puppy.

Next up is oil.

US Oil Fund (NYSE: USO) – Weekly

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Everybody knows that oil has had a rough go lately. Everybody knows that the Saudis would love to put many of their competitors out of business and that keeping prices low is likely to do the trick. And everybody knows that a rising dollar is tough on “Texas tea.”

But, it is worth remembering that the price of oil is also seen as a prime proxy for the state of the global economy. So, with oil pushing lower lately and now threatening to break to fresh lows, one can easily conclude that global growth isn’t exactly hitting on all cylinders at the present time.

The IMF Agrees

Heck, even the IMF agrees that the outlook for growth isn’t heading in the right direction. Yesterday the fund suggested that Yellen & Co. ought to hold off on their plans to raise interest rates on December 16. While I’m paraphrasing here, the report basically said the global economy can’t handle it.

High Yields Are Also in Trouble

Although the index that junk bond ETFs employ is heavily influenced by the action in the oil patch, many analysts (including yours truly) like to look at high yield bonds as a “canary in the coal mine” so to speak. And right now, things are definitely not looking good here.

SPDR High Yield ETF (NYSE: JNK) – Weekly

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Yes, it is true that high yield bonds are impacted by interest rates. However, junk really trades on credit risk (i.e. the risk of default) and in turn, the overall outlook for the economy. And as someone who has been managing this market since 1990, I can say that most folks think of junk bonds as “stocks in drag.” As such, the action in the high yield space is viewed as a good gauge of the stock market’s internal health.

And like the charts of “Dr. Copper” and oil, this is not a pretty picture at the present time.

The Takeaway

The bottom line would appear to be that some worry is back in the game and traders have decided it is time to “go the other way” yet again this year. Thus, we should keep an eye on the important support zones to see if the bulls will be able to make a stand. Currently, key near-term support is in the 2020 area.

S&P 500 – Daily

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However, keep in mind that stocks typically sell off prior to the holidays – and that usually (a key word here) the bulls wind up putting on a good show as the year draws to a close. Therefore, anyone feeling like they were a little light on equity exposure as the S&P was nearing that all-time high a couple weeks back may want to think about buying the dip.


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